A Whiff of Cyanide by Guy Fraser-Sampson – Review
By Sandra Callard
A Whiff of Cyanide is the third book in the Hampstead Murders series by Guy Fraser-Sampson. Set in the upmarket London area of Hampstead, we again meet Peter Collins, a modern-day Lord Peter Wimsey with an appealing superior intelligence, and Hampstead police station crime fighters, Simon Collinson, Bob Metcalfe and Karen Willis.
Here we have the murder by poisoning of a world famous author as she prepares to talk about her books to an audience of hundreds. The plot delves deeper and deeper into subjects as diverse as the smell of poisons, mitochondrial DNA, adoption legalities and the terrifying fact that you can make cyanide in a school science lab. The research here is impressive and exhaustive, and also extremely edifying.
Fraser-Sampson is an elegant and sophisticated writer who brings his characters to life with great art and subtlety. His plots follow this theme, often with some meandering threads which lead the reader down a few blind alleys just as they are congratulating themselves on discovering the murderer.
“Research is impressive and exhaustive”
Classic whodunnit stuff, especially when it contains a cyanide plot, and a murder in full view of hundreds of people. We even have a character called Miss Marple. Not the real McCoy of course, but she still sits and knits as she offers sensible advice to the police.
The accompanying storyline regarding the major players in this book is still going strong in this third Hampstead Murders novel, and did come to some sort of conclusion, but not enough to give any concrete idea of what is going to happen to the menage a trois in the house in Frognal. We can make a good guess but confirmation is needed, and a fourth Hampstead Murders would probably do the trick.
A good crime novel is best read on a cold winter’s night in front of a roaring fire, but I enjoyed it just as much in the sunshine of my garden. Even though, dammit, I didn’t guess the murderer. Hats off again to Mr Fraser-Sampson.
‘A Whiff of Cyanide’ by Guy Fraser-Sampson is published by Urbane, £7.99